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Environmental Concerns Rule Out S African Exhibit

Media release
November 8 2005


Environmental Concerns Rule Out South African Exhibit

A South African garden set to exhibit at Ellerslie Flower Show later this month has been withdrawn by the designer in a bid to protect New Zealand’s ecology.

The Afrikan Dream garden was last week announced as an additional exhibit in the line-up of more than 100 spectacular attractions drawing visitors from far and wide to this year’s Show, dubbed as the Southern Hemisphere’s largest garden party.

The Afrikan Dream was part of Ellerslie Flower Show’s ongoing strategy to internationalise the event and establish reciprocal links and greater collaboration between world flower shows such as South Africa’s Cape Town Flower Show and London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The exhibit has been abandoned today because of concerns from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) about the economic and environmental risks of importing the three tonnes of South African plants and flowers that make up the garden, past New Zealand’s borders.

The lack of an official agreement between South Africa and New Zealand on the transportation of indigenous species also affected the ability of the garden’s designers to ship the required material. The designers had not been granted the requisite CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permits for the listed plants in the exhibit.

Ellerslie Flower Show general manager Peter Cox said the garden was to be an added bonus for visitors and particularly the South African ex-pat community, among the massive array of exciting exhibits showing at Auckland Botanic Gardens from 16 to 20 November this year, including the show-stopping Pacific Retail Finance marquee designed by Chelsea Flower Show star Xanthe White.

“As all the major Show highlights had already been in place for months, we were delighted last week to receive confirmation from the South African designers that their garden would be an added extra at the Show.”

“As Ellerslie becomes an increasingly international event with ties to other major garden events throughout the world, issues around getting living species into the country are increased – but it is important that we look after New Zealand first and the protection of our amazing wildlife, flora and fauna.”

“Fortunately we are able to meet the restrictions that are in place for our exhibits coming from other parts of the world, including the rare scented orchid display which is arriving from Singapore next weekend.”

“It is important that we do inform visitors as soon as possible of the cancellation of this garden, due to the publicity that this exhibit has attracted from the media over the past week,” said Pete Cox. “We still promise a breathtaking extravaganza of colour, design and entertainment the Show!”

David Davidson, designer of the Afrikan Dream garden in Cape Town, has commended New Zealand for its efforts to maintain biosecurity. “In terms of global conservation efforts and biodiversity sustainability, it is very impressive that such controls do exist in responsible countries like New Zealand, particularly where such a high value is place on the agricultural economy.”

“While we are disappointed we are unable to be at Ellerslie Flower Show this year, we acknowledge the importance of tight border controls. The vegetation of New Zealand is among the most stunning in the world and it is of the utmost importance that this precious and vulnerable ecology continues to be protected.”

“We were extremely excited about being a part of such a major horticultural event as Ellerslie Flower Show and hope that with more lead time and longer advance planning to meet MAF requirements that we can attend in the future.”

Gerard Clover, at MAF Biosecurity New Zealand commented “Unfortunately, given the timing, there’s little that can be done. These plants and cut flowers could have pests and diseases which could harm the New Zealand economy, environment, or people, and we’re not able to give exemptions.

“We’re grateful for the organisers’ professional attitude and look forward to working together from an early stage to ensure exhibits like this one can be imported wherever possible in the future.”

Ellerslie Flower Show 2005 promises to be Like Never Before, with innovation, inspiration and floral delights. The Show will spring into bloom from 16-20 November, when the Auckland Botanic Gardens will be transformed into a blaze of colour. Tickets can be purchased at Foodtown stores nationwide or from any Ticketek outlet, by contacting 09 307 5000 (or your local Ticketek number) or via the website www.ticketek.co.nz

ENDS

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